Photograph supplied by and © of Frances Holcroft
The date of the foundation of the mother church is uncertain but a church existed at Winwick before 1086. At Newton in 1242, a small chapel was erected by Sir Robert Banastre. Forty two years later, a licence was obtained for a chantry to this chapel. Banastre’s chapel seems to have remained in use until services were discontinued in 1553 after the suppression of the lesser monasteries and chantries. However, the chapel continued to be the centre of religious life in Newton, with curates appointed by the mother church at Winwick.
After the Civil War, the old chapel was in ruins. The barony was then owned by the Legh family, and in 1682 Richard Legh:
‘ did take down an ancient building in Newton which had been used as a Chapel, and… did at his own expense erect a larger chapel.. chiefly if not wholly upon a new foundation a little more southerly from the ground whereon the said old building stood…. ‘
The sudden death of Richard Legh in 1687 delayed the consecration of the chapel until 1735. The new chapel remained in use until the present building was erected at the end of the nineteenth century; the chapel became a church with its own parish and vicar in 1844. During its two hundred year history, the chapel was enlarged or improved on five occasions between 1816 and 1887. At the last date, the structure of the building was described as needing only ‘four new walls and a roof!’ Soon the present church dedicated to St Peter began to take shape.
At first, only a new chancel was built in 1892-93, but with the death of George McCorquodale two years later, his family decided to rebuild the nave in his memory. This was completed in 1898. In the same year, the vicar, Herbert Monk, died. He had been the prime mover in the effort to rebuild the church. In his will, he left money for the erection of the tower, which was dedicated in 1901. A peal of bells was added, and in 1903, the lych-gate was erected to the memory of W.J.Legh, first Baron of Newton. At the beginning of the twentieth century, the present building was complete.
‘St Peter’s Church – A Historical Summary’, Lynton J. Smith, M.A.
Date estimated c1900, prior to completion of the new tower in 1901
Photograph kindly supplied by Newton Library